Enter Operation Sayaid (Hunter)

The Anbar Campaign continues. The Washington Post reports Operation Sayaid (or “Hunter”) is designed to bolster the U.S. and Iraqi presence in the western Anbar region from Qaim to Haditha. Sayaid will add several U.S. battalions and Iraqi battalions to the region, as well as add several hundred Iraqi border guards along the Syrian border. Iraq’s 7th Army Division will provide for permanent security in the region. The focus is gaining control of the small towns and cities along the western bend of the Euphrates River where al Qaeda has established networks and safe houses.

The article stresses the importance of Rawah, and notes an Iraqi battalion is currently stationed there. We noted the strategic importance of Rawah in July, and pointed out that bridges were being taken out along the Euphrates to funnel traffic to more manageable locations in July.

The first phase of Operation Sayaid came in July when an Army squadron of Stryker vehicles, augmented for intelligence gathering, rolled south from Mosul to set up an outpost near the Euphrates River town of Rawah. The contingent of more than 1,000 troops established an American presence on the north side of the river; the Marines had been operating on the south side. Also arriving in Rawah was an Iraqi Intervention Force battalion.

The troops have imposed tight controls on traffic that now must use the single bridge in Rawah. U.S. warplanes this month blew up two smaller pontoon bridges farther west in the towns of Karabilah and New Ubaydi, making the Rawah river crossing even more critical.

General Casey, the senior U.S. commander in Iraq lays out the timetable; the plan is to “[restore] Iraqi control of its border by the end of November, before the December [parliamentary] elections.”

Operation Sayaid must be looked at in the greater context of the Anbar Campaign. The Coalition is often accused of not having a coherent plan to establish control in western Iraq, but the pace and design of operations over the past year do not support this conclusion.

Last fall, Fallujah was removed as the premier terrorist safe haven, which sat on the doorstep to Baghdad. Then operations in Mosul slowly pried Iraq’s second largest city from the grip of the insurgency. The spring and summer consisted of a series of operations in Qaim, Hit, Haditha, Ramadi, and a host of cities and towns that were designed to keep the enemy off balance and deny them freedom of action. [Note: the full compliment of major operations can be viewed here.]

In July, a large base was established in Rawah, the strategic town that sits at the crossroads of the Anbar province, with roads leading in all directions. Earlier this month, Tal Afar was removed as the northern terrorist safe haven, and Coalition forces moved into the city to establish control. The Rabiah crossing in the north and the Rutbah crossing in the south were secured. Raids and airstrikes along the Euphrates River continued during this time. Hundreds of al Qaeda and insurgent operators were killed or captured during these search and destroy missions.

The key to reaching the current phase of the Anbar Campaign is the availability of Iraqi troops. Tal Afar was the first operation where Iraqi forces took the lead, and outnumbered U.S. forces.

The Iraqi government has stated it will secure Tal Afar with Iraqi forces, yet still plans to send multiple battalions to western Anbar for Operation Sayaid. This indicates that Iraqi forces are now available to be deployed to the most dangerous regions of Iraq. Whether they are “fully operational” (able to provide for their own logistics or have organic heavy weapons) is immaterial. The Iraqi units will be taking to the fight to the insurgency in the heart of their area of operations.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.


  • Justin Capone says:

    Al Qaida in Iraq Emir killed in Haditha
    BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition forces raided a terrorist safe house in the city of Haditha Sept. 18, resulting in the death of Shehab Hamed (aka Abu Ali), a known al Qaida in Iraq senior military Emir, and the capture of another terrorist.
    Abu Ali has been identified as the senior al Qaida in Iraq military Emir of al Qaim and was responsible for all terrorist operations in the al Qaim area. He was responsible for directing, planning and executing VBIED, IED and mortar attacks against Iraqi security and Coalition forces.
    Coalition forces believe that Abu Ali recently assumed the role of regional al Qaida in Iraq military Emir responsible for all regional terrorist operations for the group in the al Qaim and Haditha areas along the Euphrates River Valley.
    Iraq: Ansar al-Sunna Leader Arrested
    One of the leaders of the terror organisation, the Ansar al-Sunna Army, was recently arrested in an area south of Baghdad, an Iraqi newspaper has reported. Ahmad Khadir Shahd al-Ghariri, an Ansar al-Sunna leader operating in the Larifaya district, the so-called ‘triangle of death”, was picked up by Iraqi security forces, the al-Mada neswpaper said.
    Police chief Muhammad Abu Kahila was cited by the newspaper as saying that the militant leader had cut the throats of at least 15 people and carried out attacks on Iraqi police patrols and American troops. He was the head of a group of 15 militants and is thought to have been captured inside a hotel in the city of Samawa, south of the capital.
    Ansar al-Sunna, or Army of the Protectors of the Sunna [which refers to the collective teachings of the Prophet Muhammad], is a Sunni extremist group said to be linked to al-Qaeda and Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks and kidnappings in Iraq.

  • leaddog2 says:

    “fully operational”

  • Zarqawi’s war on Shiites rejected by other extremists

  • LarsGruber says:

    Oh course, the Republicowards will continue to hide behind the brave words of their blogs.
    Why didn’t you join the military to fight bush’s war? That’s right.. you’re a coward.
    bok bok chicken hawk

  • Bizarro LarsGruber says:

    Hi, I’m LarsGruber. You may know me from my witty trolling. I have nothing of substance to contribute to the debate, that’s why I carry the Anti-American Express Card. It conveniently allows me to bypass any rational, fact-based discussion. That’s why I use the Anti-American Express Card–Don’t troll blogs without it.

  • Ike says:

    Do you even think this country is worth defending? Why are you on this site if you want this country to lose in Iraq?
    Does good news and American success make you that insecure about yourself that you need to insult others?

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    from MNSTC-I
    “The Iraqi Army will ultimately be comprised of 113 combat battalions: 91 Infantry battalions, 12 special Iraqi Intervention Force battalions, five mechanized Infantry battalions, four tank battalions, and one special-duty security battalion. Nine Motor Transportation Regiments, three mechanized combat service support battalions, and 10 base support units will sustain the Iraqi Army forces.”
    113 Combat + 9 Transportation + 3 Combat Support + 10 Base Support = 135 Battalions total. It should also be noted that MNF declares a battalion “stood up” at 80% of projected manpower.
    My personal speculation would be that the artillery company that is standard with a US Infantry Battalion is still missing from Iraqi infantry battalions.
    Last official release was that there were 116 Battalions. Which 19 battalions are missing is unknown to me.
    I’m pretty sure the light infantry units are equipped with AK-47’s, flak jackets, Metal helmets, a toyota pickup with large caliber machine gun bolted in the bed.
    The tank battalions will be a mix of T-55’s and T-72’s.

  • leaddog2 says:

    Thanks Soldier’s Dad,
    You know, the “Tokoyo Rose” types in the media who report all of the false anti-American stories are going to have to be exterminated someday soon.

  • Justin Capone says:

    Bush’s Words on Iraq Echo LBJ
    WASHINGTON Sep 21, 2005 – Bush officials bristle at the suggestion the war in Iraq might look anything like Vietnam. Yet just as today’s anti-war protests recall memories of yesteryear, President Bush’s own words echo those of President Johnson in 1967, a pivotal year for the U.S. in Vietnam.
    “America is committed to the defense of South Vietnam until an honorable peace can be negotiated,” Johnson told the Tennessee Legislature on March 15, 1967. Despite the obstacles to victory, the president said, “We shall stay the course.”
    After 14 Marines died in a roadside bombing on Aug. 3, Bush declared: “We will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this: We’ll help the Iraqis develop a democracy.”
    About 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam in 1967 after a three-year buildup, compared with about 140,000 in Iraq today. Heavy aerial bombing was a primary U.S. strategy in Vietnam while Iraq, after the initial campaign of “shock and awe,” has been mainly a ground war. The U.S. negotiated for peace in Vietnam, but there is no single entity with which to negotiate in Iraq.
    Knowing the long, painful and divisive Vietnam War ended with an unceremonious U.S. withdrawal and the fall of South Vietnam, administration officials have blanched at comparisons with Iraq. The administration declined to comment on comparisons between the rhetoric of Johnson and Bush.
    Johnson’s main arguments were much like those Bush has employed: War was justified to protect the U.S. and to encourage freedom everywhere. When faced with mounting losses on the battlefield, both presidents offered the dead as a reason to keep fighting.
    The media is getting worse and worse.

  • Soldier's Dad says:

    Those numbers don’t include the 74,000 Iraqi’s in the Facility Protection Service(pipeline and powerplant guards). The Iraqi Army just recently began to cycle the Facility protection guys thru a 4 week training program.(Maybe if the guards are actually trained then they can protect the pipelines and powerplants!!!)

  • EU=4thReich says:

    I have found that when you try to reason with
    leftist lobotimized inbreeders like Lars it is usually a hopeless affair, just like they are.
    Lars is probably one of those misguided zealots
    that believed Jennifer was lying, Paula was lying,
    and clintoon would never use the power of his office to sexually abuse interns. Pity Lars,
    he lives in a fantasy world bereft of facts,
    logic and critical thinking.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Some of you are starting to make me angry. I really don’t want to consider turning on TypeKey registration for comments, but I will. I will not edit or delete comments (unless offensive) as it can be too confusing to the readers. Watch the comments. No threats (leaddog2), and no feeding the trolls or veering way off topic (EU). LarsGruber will not even be back to read the comments.

  • B. Marchi says:

    LarsGruber: I did join to fight “Mr. Bush’s War” as you say and my little brother is on his second tour with a battalion from the 82nd Airborne. Not only did I join to fight this war, but I was proud to be one of 2,000 Delegates to the Republican National Convention in NY that nominated the President for a second term. So for my worried mother’s sake, how ’bout you shut the hell up and leave preserving liberty to the professionals.

  • Thursday Winds of War: 22 September 05

    Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday…

  • Iraqi Operations & The MSM Bias

    Iraq’s 7th Army Division will be playing a major role in the operation and Bill has been updating us on the operation’s in the west for the last few months:

  • Operation Hunter

    It appears a major push is underway with a well-planned series of operations coexisting under the umbrella of an Operation called Hunter. And it seems to me the plan is to clear and fix a position close to the Syrian


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram